Yesterday’s ordinations in Melbourne were of course a wonderful and blessed event.
As I arrived yesterday, I ran into the van Strijp family, who attended the ordinations as a guest of Fr Joel Peart.
Joseph took a few photos and shared some thoughtful explanations on Facebook, which he’s permitted me to reproduce here. When he’s not guest blogging, Joseph is a carpenter. You can check out his work at www.josephtheworker.com.au.
During the litany of the saints, the deacons lie prostrate.
This symbolizes the deacons’ unworthiness for the office to be assumed and their dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.
The laying on of hands: this is one of my favourite parts of an ordination ceremony.
When the litany is ended the candidates rise and go in pairs to kneel before the bishop. The bishop places both his hands on the head of each candidate in turn, without saying anything. This very simple though impressive action, unaccompanied by prayer or chant, is called the essential matter of the sacrament. It signifies that the power of priesthood is conferred by the bishop imposing hands on the candidate, transmitting to the latter the power which the bishop himself has received from Christ through the apostles and their successors.
After the bishop has imposed hands on them, they return to their former place and kneel. When all are in place the bishop holds his right hand outstretched over them. Next the priests who are present come forward and lay both their hands on the head of each candidate.
The act of the priests taking part in the ceremony of laying-on of hands is perhaps a relic of the time when more than one bishop took part in the ordination of priests, and each bishop present imposed hands on the ordinands. The present ceremony of the priests, imposing hands has no other purpose than to make more forceful the outward sign of power being conferred through this kind of action.